Scholastic Bowl puts brains over brawn
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jan 21, 2013, 10:39
photo by Caitlin Davis The Colonial Heights Academic Challenge team members ponder a question at the Scholastic Bowl at Dinwiddie High School.
As the questions began, the students had their hands poised over their buzzers poised, hoping to be the first one to have the correct answer, within three seconds, hoping to help their team score a win, at the VHSL “Scholastic Bowl,” held at Dinwiddie High School on Wednesday.
“I was proud of team’s accomplishments and to build on our success,” David Flickinger, Mathematics Lead Teacher at Colonial Heights High School and Academic Challenge Team Coach, said in an email after the tournament. “We have some plans to focus practices on certain areas of interest like Physics Laws, poets and their works, Religion, etc.”
The tournament began as Colonial Heights faced Thomas Dale. In round one of three, Colonial Heights team captain, junior Anna-Claire Bousquet, got the team its first score on the board and continued to lead the team through the first round of questions. Even with a strong start, the team eventually fell to Dale, but remained in high spirits throughout the challenge.
Bousquet has been in academic challenges since her freshman year of high school and said each year, the challenges are just as fun.
“You get to come with your team,” Bousquet said. “You get to compete against other smart people.”
Bousquet said she felt she could have done better after the first round.
“Sometimes I knew something and then some things I knew too late,” Bousquet said. “But we will continue to do our best and try to win. That’s the goal.”
Flickinger said academic challenges such as the “Scholastic Bowl” are not just a showcase of a person’s knowledge base, but also an exercise of time.
“You’ve got to have some speed as well as a broad knowledge base in order to do well and sometimes that’s a hard balance to find in a students,” Flickinger said. “A lot of times, these students are great thinkers and they write great papers, but, if they’re not able to quickly recall it, they struggle.”
Though falling in the first round to Thomas Dale, Flickinger was confident of the team’s ability to pull through to the second round of the “Scholastic Bowl” challenge, noting he thought the team got rid of their “jitters.”
“Overall I was pleased with what they did,” Flickinger said. “Both teams were a little slow getting out, but once they started getting more comfortable with the questions and focusing in, they starting answering the questions a bit more.”
Bousquet has had love for academic challenges for a while, and even practices while watching television at home.
“I watch ‘Jeopardy’ at night sometimes,” Bousquet said. “And now I get to do it in person. It’s fun...I rock at ‘Jeopardy.’ I get, like, half the answers.”
For Bousquet, joining the Academic Challenge Team was what she called a “logical progression,”from the scholastic ability first reflected in her grades at school. Bousquet found it hard to define her area of expertise.
“I’m just kind of a mixed bag,” Bousquet said.
It was Bousquet who encouraged fellow junior Alexandra Hsain, to join the Academic Challenge Team. The Wednesday evening tournament at Dinwiddie High School was Hsain’s first competition, a watershed for which she was ready.
“I’m absolutely excited,” Hsain said. “This is my first year doing Academic Challenge Tea and I’ve met a lot of my friends, a lot of my friends are in it. It is a great opportunity for us to spend time together as well.”
She also said the competition gave her an outlet for all the information she has stored over the years.
“The name implies what it is. It really challenges me to go further, to know not just one subject, but all the subjects,” Hsain said. “All this useless information I’ve accrued over the years, I can put it towards something.”
Hsain said studying all the information for the quiz game could be overwhelming at times, but she made it manageable by brushing up on specific areas, including scientific and geometric laws, before the competition.
The information she gleaned from studying wasn’t the only thing Hsain kept in mind during the competition.
“The main thing you have to do is relax and trust yourself,” Hsain said. “You know, I tend to doubt myself a lot, and with Academic Challenge Team you can’t do that. You have to learn to trust yourself that you know it, and if you know it, you can win.”
photo by Caitlin Davis The Scholastic Bowl and other academic challenge events test students on their knowledge of diverse subjects, their ability to think quickly when under pressure and their confidence as the team members race to answer first.
The Colonial Heights team displayed greater confidence in the second round, in which they triumphed over Meadowbrook and moved forward.
“I feel better about this one,” Bousquet said. “It was fun and I didn’t mess up as much.”
In the fourth round, the Colonial Heights team fell to Dinwiddie in a closely matched round that ended in a tie-breaker question.
“It’s a heartbreaking way to lose,” Flickinger said of the match. “Especially when you’re neck and neck the whole match.”
For future competitions, Flickinger is looking to the younger members of team, freshman like Nojan Sheybani. Sheybani, like his teammate Hsain, was at his first “Scholastic Bowl.”
“I do all my sports for the school, so doing that, that’s really got me used to competing in front of other people...” Sheybani said. “I’m nervous, because it’s my first time, but I feel like I’m ready.”
“Since we only have two seniors on the team, our young players can pick up more knowledge as the years go on, and can focus on future competitions,” Flickinger said in an email.
The night ended with Matoaca in first place over second place finishers Prince George. Those teams will advance to the Central Region “Scholastic Bowl” competition.
Flickinger said that VHSL changes that lie ahead will pair Colonial Heights against other small schools.
“Tournament play will be very different in the future, with new conferences being formed by VHSL,” Flickinger said in an email. “Our traditional rivalries will be changed and hopefully play will become more competitive since we will be matched against similar sized schools.”